Flight operation from Darbhanga under regional connectivity scheme to begin in November
Flight operations under regional connectivity scheme (RCS) will begin from Bihar’s Darbhanga airport in the first week of November, Union civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Saturday.
The minister who reviewed ongoing work at Darbhanga, Deoghar (Jharkhand) and Patna airports on Saturday said booking for daily flights from Darbhanga to Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru will begin before September 30.
“Flight operation will begin in the first week of November, before the auspicious festival of Chhath Puja. This will be a boon for 22 districts of north Bihar,” said Puri.
Spicejet will operate flights from Darbhanga to Delhi, Bengaluru and Mumbai under RCS.
Meanwhile, the number of daily flights from Patna airport will increase from next week. The government was likely to increase the cap on restricting flight operations from existing 60% to 75% of the flights approved in the summer schedule (effective Mar 29) from Patna airport.
The state had pitched for completely removing the restriction on the number of flights being operated from Patna, to which Puri did not agree at this point in time. Airline sources say most of the 32 daily scheduled flights were operating with full passenger load as of now.
The Patna airport, which used to handle an average 54 daily departures during the pre-Covid period, currently handles 32. Raising the cap on flights would mean an increase of five flights, airport officials said.
The flights from Patna were expected to increase on the Delhi and Bengaluru sectors.
The work on construction of a new terminal building at the Patna airport, at a cost of Rs 1216.90 crore was now likely to be complete by March 2023, said senior officials. The earlier deadline was October 2022. Once complete, the terminal building will be able to handle 8 million passengers per annum, with peak hour passenger handling capacity of 3,000 passengers and apron capacity to park 11 aircraft at a time, besides cargo handling capacity of 10,000 metric tonnes annually, said airport director BCH Negi.
The existing domestic terminal building capacity was 0.7 million passengers per annum (MPPA) prior to the extension and modification. In 2019-2020, the airport handled about 4.8 million passengers.
Talking about the Darbhanga airport, Puri said that this would be one more step under the ambitious UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik) scheme to provide air connectivity to the interior regions of the country under the motto ‘Sab Uden, Sab Juden.’
Meanwhile, the state government has told the Centre about the operational shortcomings at Darbhanga airport.
“We have apprised the civil aviation secretary that with the navigational aid currently available at the Darbhanga airport, and the foggy conditions during winters, operation of flights may not be possible between, December and March due to low visibility. The secretary has assured us to look into it,” said Sanjay Kumar, principal secretary, cabinet coordination department, Bihar, who also holds the charge of the civil aviation department in the state.
Kumar said the state government had spent Rs 120 crore on acquiring 31 acres of land for the civil enclave at Darbhanga, which will be given to the IAF. The latter will transfer equitable land in lieu of it to the Airports Authority of India (AAI).